ArticlePDF Available

Cognitive task load in a naval ship control centre: From identification to prediction


Abstract and Figures

Deployment of information and communication technology will lead to further automation of control centre tasks and an increasing amount of information to be processed. A method for establishing adequate levels of cognitive task load for the operators in such complex environments has been developed. It is based on a model distinguishing three load factors: time occupied, task-set switching, and level of information processing. Application of the method resulted in eight scenarios for eight extremes of task load (i.e. low and high values for each load factor). These scenarios were performed by 13 teams in a high-fidelity control centre simulator of the Royal Netherlands Navy. The results show that the method provides good prediction of the task load that will actually appear in the simulator. The model allowed identification of under- and overload situations showing negative effects on operator performance corresponding to controlled experiments in a less realistic task environment. Tools proposed to keep the operator at an optimum task load are (adaptive) task allocation and interface support.
Content may be subject to copyright.
Cognitive task load in a naval ship control
centre: from identification to prediction
{Defence Materiel Organization, Directorate Materiel Royal Netherlands Navy,
Department of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering, PO Box 20702,
2500 ES The Hague, The Netherlands
{Technical University of Delft, PO Box 5031, 2628 CD Delft, The Netherlands
xTNO Human Factors, Kampweg 5, PO Box 23, 3769 ZG Soesterberg,
The Netherlands
Deployment of information and communication technology will lead to
further automation of control centre tasks and an increasing amount of
information to be processed. A method for establishing adequate levels of
cognitive task load for the operators in such complex environments has been
developed. It is based on a model distinguishing three load factors: time
occupied, task-set switching, and level of information processing. Application
of the method resulted in eight scenarios for eight extremes of task load
(i.e. low and high values for each load factor). These scenarios were
performed by 13 teams in a high-fidelity control centre simulator of the
Royal Netherlands Navy. The results show that the method provides good
prediction of the task load that will actually appear in the simulator. The
model allowed identification of under- and overload situations showing
negative effects on operator performance corresponding to controlled
experiments in a less realistic task environment. Tools proposed to keep
the operator at an optimum task load are (adaptive) task allocation and
interface support.
Keywords: Mental load; Task analysis; Human–computer interaction;
Cognitive engineering; Task allocation; Ship control centre
1. Introduction
Because of ongoing automation in process control, fewer personnel have to manage
high-demand situations and supervise complex systems. Reduced manning concepts
appear based on the notion that the information and communication technology can
take over and support operator tasks. However, information processing demands
appear to increase substantially for the operators because of the availability of
*Corresponding author. Email:
Vol. 49, Nos. 12–13, 10–22 October 2006, 1238–1264
ISSN 0014-0139 print/ISSN 1366-5847 online ª 2006 Taylor & Francis
DOI: 10.1080/00140130600612705
ever-increasing amounts of information that have to be processed, the increased scope
of actions, and the ever-increasing costs of errors in an environment with possibly
ambiguous and insecure information (cf. Neerincx and Griffioen 1996). The central
question is how to address human factors systematically in the development and main-
tenance processes of such complex and dynamic human–machine systems in order to
realize optimal operational effectiveness and efficiency.
An extensive and diverse set of human factors methods and tools have been identified
and proposed for the design of tasks and user interfaces, for example from the per-
spective of (cognitive) task analysis (Kirwan and Ainsworth 1992, Schraagen et al. 2000,
Hollnagel 2003), human–computer interactions (Helander et al. 1997, Jacko and
Sears 2003), and usability engineering (Mayhew 1999, Maguire 2001, Rosson and
Carroll 2001). We propose a cognitive engineering approach, in which the human factors
engineering activities are tailored to the domain specifics and continuously improved by
empirical studies. Two examples are of interest in this regard. Koubek et al. (2003)
address human factors within a framework and theoretically based software tool
which provide engineers and designers with easy access to the most recent advance in
human–machine interface design. Another good example is presented by Neerincx et al.
(2003c) who developed the cognitive and functional framework (COLFUN) for
envisioning and assessing high-demand situations in order to realize adequate human
resource deployment. Application of the framework (Rypkema et al. 2002) showed how
COLFUN supports the integration of human factors in the iterative development process
of complex human–machine design for a traffic control centre.
In the current research we show how to address human factors in the design process
by the application and validation of a cognitive task load (CTL) method in a complex
domain. This human-centred design method (Neerincx 2003) is based on a CTL model
and aims at an optimal CTL for the operators at all times. The method was evaluated in
a complex partially automated task environment in process control—a high-fidelity
ship control centre (SCC) simulator in which platform systems are supervised and
damage control activities are planned and coordinated.
1.1. Cognitive task load model
The CTL model (figure 1) distinguishes three load factors that have a substantial effect on
task performance and mental effort (Neerincx 2003). The first classical load factor,
percentage time occupied (TO), has been used to assess workload in practice for timeline
assessments. Such assessments are often based on the notion that people should not be
occupied for more than 70–80% of the total time available (Beevis 1992). The second load
factor is the level of information processing (LIP). To address cognitive task demands, the
cognitive load model incorporates the skill–rule–knowledge framework of Rasmussen
(1986). In this framework, LIP is divided into three levels: skill-based, rule-based,
and knowledge-based. At the skill-based level, information is processed automatically,
resulting in actions that have little cognitively demand. At the rule-based level,
input information triggers routine solutions (i.e. procedures with rules of the type
‘if 5event/state4 then 5action4’), resulting in efficient problem-solving in terms of the
required cognitive capacities. At the knowledge-based level, the problem is analysed
and solution(s) are planned, in particular to deal with new situations. This type of
information processing can involve a high load on the limited capacity of working
memory. To address the demands of attention shifts, the cognitive load model
distinguishes task-set switching (TSS) as a third load factor. Complex task situations
Cognitive task load in a ship control centre 1239
consist of several different tasks with different goals. These tasks appeal to different
sources of human knowledge and capacities, and refer to different objects in
the environment. We use the term ‘task-set’ to denote the human resources and
environmental objects with the momentary states which are involved in the task
Figure 1 depicts a three-dimensional (3D) ‘load space’ in which human activities can be
projected with regions indicating the cognitive demands that the activity imposes on the
operator. It should be noted that these factors represent task demands which affect
human operator performance and effort (i.e. it is not a definition of the operator cognitive
state). In the middle area, CTL matches the operator’s mental capacity. At corner 8 CTL
is high (TO, TSS, and LIP are high) and an overload occurs. Corner 1 represents the area
in which, because of underload, CTL is not optimal. When TO is high, and LIP and TSS
are low, vigilance problems can appear (corner 2) (Levine et al. 1973, Parasuraman 1986).
When TO and TSS are high, cognitive lock-up can appear,i.e. the tendency of people to
focus on single faults, ignoring the other subsystems to be controlled (line 4–8) (Boehne
and Paese 2000, Kerstholt and Passenier 2000).
Higher CTL does not automatically result in a reduced level of performance.
The effects of increased CTL can be counteracted by an increase in effort. Thus the
performance effects must be related to the effort scores (Zijlstra 1993, Veltman and
Gaillard 1996). In evaluation of performance both speed and accuracy have to be
considered. The speed–accuracy trade-off, and the inverse relation between these two
parameters, is described by Wickens (1992).
1.2. CTL method
Neerincx (2003) developed the CTL method to guide human–machine development
processes in order to realize acceptable levels of task load for process control operators.
The core of the method is the CTL model described above.
CTL can only be analysed for specific concrete task contexts. An effective method of
creating such a context is the use of scenarios (Carroll 2000). Scenarios presuppose
Figure 1. Dimensions of the CTL model showing time occupied (TO), task-set switches
(TSS), and level of information processing (LIP). Neerincx (2003) distinguishes several
critical regions: underload, vigilance, cognitive lock-up, and overload. The numbers (1–8)
represent the scenarios used in the experiment.
1240 M. Grootjen et al.
a certain setting, within which the roles are played by actors. In complex scenarios
different actors can be involved, possibly interacting with each other. Actors have specific
goals or tasks, and actions have to be taken to achieve these goals. Neerincx (2003)
provides a CTL method and a description format for the systematic creation and
assessment of normal and critical situations with their corresponding action sequences.
Such an action sequence displays the actions of different actors, including their
interactions with support systems, on a timeline. The actions can be triggered by events,
and are grouped according to their higher-level task (goal). Figure 2 shows a (simplified)
part of an action sequence diagram. The actors are displayed on the horizontal axis
(system, operator 1, operator 2, etc.). The timeline is represented by the vertical axis.
The different task-sets can be distinguished by colours or by different types of line.
The LIP levels are presented in various shades of grey.
1.3. Application and validation
The CTL model and method can predict whether future task demands are attuned to
the limited human information processing capacities. This model and method are
derived from cognitive research in different task domains. Our approach is to conduct
experiments in both controlled laboratory settings and in more complex realistic settings
to systematically test the theoretical foundation and investigate its application in the real
world. In this approach, the test environment increases in complexity and therefore
Figure 2. Small portion of an action sequence diagram using the CTL method
(Neerincx 2003).
Cognitive task load in a ship control centre 1241
decreases in controllability. In this way we can both test and refine the theory and achieve
a good understanding of its applicability in practice.
The model was validated in two experiments. The first experiment providing empirical
support for the CTL model was a simple laboratory task called the ‘alarm 112 task’
(Neerincx et al. 2003a). The participant was in charge of three emergency services
(fire brigade, ambulance, and police) and had to deal with different types of crises. Each
service consisted of a team of four ‘virtual’ persons. The experiment had nine different
conditions, givng a combination of low, medium, and high scores for the load factors LIP
and TSS. The second experiment used a test environment with computer tasks explicitly
exhibiting important features from damage control on ships, called the ‘SCC computer
task’ (Neerincx and van Besouw 2001). In this task the user plays the role of damage
control manager, supervising platform systems on the ship. Eight scenario types were
designed for the SCC task, one for each corner of the model. Both laboratory
experiments showed that LIP and TSS can affect operator performance and mental effort
substantially in addition to TO. Furthermore, in the experiments the negative effects of
the load factors reinforced each other.
The CTL method has been used for a variety of purposes. Neerincx and Passenier
(2000) found that the method was useful for task allocation in the design process of an air
defence and command frigate (ADCF) for the Royal Netherlands Navy (RNlN).
Grootjen et al. (2002) used the method to develop user interface support which proved to
have a substantial added value for task performance. Neerincx et al. (2003b) presented a
scenario-based tool which is able to calculate load distributions (including possible
occurrences of momentary peak values) and overall execution time for a particular crew.
This tool is based on the CTL method and can be of great value in the design of control
centres. For example, van Veenendaal (2002) assessed the action sequences for alternative
designs of the bridge of a naval ship, comprising different task allocations and support
functions for navigation and platform supervision. The analysis showed that, under
normal conditions, the task of the bridge officer could be extended to include platform
control tasks.
1.4. Current research: high-fidelity SCC experiment
The RNlN is maintaining and developing various classes of frigates, ranging from
standard frigates succeeded by the multipurpose frigate (M-frigate) and the new ADCF.
These frigates have a SCC in which CTL can vary enormously from one extreme to the
other and therefore will be an important factor in the effectiveness of the human problem-
solving process. SCC occupation depends on the readiness state, and consists of two to
six people. The readiness state is determined by the ship’s commander and depends on the
situation (i.e. narrow channel, hostile threats). The technical school of the RNlN has a
high-fidelity SCC simulator. This simulator makes it possible to perform experiments in
complex realistic settings and to systematically test the theoretical foundation of the
model and method and investigate applications in the real world. We conducted
experiments to test the effects of the task characteristics distinguished by the model on
SCC task performance and subjective mental effort (SME) during different readiness
states. The scenarios were designed for the extremes of each of the three load factors.
This resulted in eight scenarios (figure 1).
This experiment should improve the empirical foundations of the CTL model and
method, and provide an initial estimation of the critical load values for the SCC.
We made two assumptions.
1242 M. Grootjen et al.
1. Application of the CTL method results in CTL specifications per crew member
(figure 2) which predict the actual CTL of a crew member adequately, i.e. we expect
the method to provide good predictions of the task load that will actually appear in
the SCC simulator.
2. The three load factors of the CTL model affect task performance and SME sub-
stantially, and can be used to identify underload, overload, vigilance, and cognitive
lock-up. Corresponding to the laboratory experiments, we expect an increased SME
and/or reduced performance when LIP, TSS, and TO are high.
Section 2 describes the method used in the experiment. Section 3 summarizes the results
of the experiment. Sections 4 and 5 contain the discussion, conclusions, and a description
of future work plans.
2. Method
2.1. Development of scenarios
Most of the development of the scenarios was done in cooperation with the technical
school of the RNlN. First, a task analysis was performed following the method of
Neerincx (2003) (figure 2 shows a small portion of this task analysis). Then, the scenarios
were implemented in the high-fidelity SCC simulator. A pilot experiment was performed
to test the scenarios in the training system. In this way the trainers became familiar with
the scenarios and some final adjustments could be made. Figure 3 shows the simulator
from the side where the trainers control the experiment (known as the ‘kitchen’).
The SCC simulator, which is identical to the SCC on an M-frigate, can be seen
behind the one-way mirror. At least three trainers were needed for each scenario.
Figure 3. Three of the four trainers controlling scenario 7 and 8. From left to right,
trainer 1 maintains an overview, trainer 2 communicates with the participants, and
trainer 3 activates alarms, operates the system, and communicates with the participants.
Cognitive task load in a ship control centre 1243
Two performed the scenario (activating alarms, operating the system, and communicat-
ing with the participants), and the third maintained a complete overview and made sure
that the scenario went in the predefined direction. In conditions 7 and 8, a fourth trainer
was needed for communication with the participants. In addition to the trainers, one
specialist made performance notes which were used in the evaluation. Figure 3 shows
three of the four trainers controlling scenario 7 and 8.
First, all conditions were performed by expert teams to obtain the expert performance
time. To do this, each scenario was executed by an expert operator and manager, who
had experience with the scenario and the standard procedures. The experts were those
people who had participated in the pilot.
2.2. Participants
Thirteen teams participated in the experiment. Three teams comprised experts from the
technical school, and the other 10 were active teams from the crews of the M-frigates that
were in harbour at the time of the experiment. Before and during their period on board
they receive training courses to develop and maintain skills. Each team consisted of an
operator and a manager. However, some teams had more members to make the scenarios
more realistic (e.g. more realistic for the specific operator and manager who were being
evaluated). The actions of the extra team members were not used in the evaluation of this
research. The ranks of the operators and managers are given in table 1. Their experience
varied over a wide range (approximately 2–10 years).
2.3. Task
The participants had to deal correctly with the emergencies that appeared. In all
tasks, the system is operated by the operator and the manager makes the decisions.
The manager is also responsible for all actions performed. At the time of the experiments
all team members were actively working on ships, and so they should have been
familiar with the operational procedures and working practices. As stated in section 1.4,
eight scenarios were designed for the extremes of each of the three load factors
(1–8 in figure 1). These scenarios are the eight conditions of the experiment. Table 1
shows the conditions and the scenario types, and a short summary of each condition is
given below.
Condition 1: Machinery Breakdown Drill 1. The ship is in transit when a malfunction in
the automation of the pitch controller appears. The crew should execute the ‘automation
failure’ procedure. The chief of the watch asks the bridge to make no further changes to
the ship’s speed until the problem has been identified. When this problem is solved,
another alarm appears: low pressure in the seawater main system. The correct procedure
is to open the emergency cooling valve.
Condition 2: Machinery Breakdown Drill 2. The ship is in harbour and making
preparations to leave. The bridge asks for two cruising diesels. For this a standard
procedure has to be followed: starting, checking, and finally selecting the machines. After
this, the bridge asks for the two main gas turbines, and a similar procedure has to be
followed. When sailing at high speed on the gas turbines, an alarm indicates high
temperature in the gear box. The correct procedure is to reduce power, and if the
temperature does not decrease, to perform an emergency stop.
1244 M. Grootjen et al.
Table 1. Conditions of the experiment.
(corner) TO TSS LIP
Operator and
manager Ranks
No. of
No. of
team members
1 Low Low Low MBDs Chief of the watch Sergeant 5 2
Deputy chief Corporal
2 High Low Low MBDs Chief of the watch Sergeant 5 2
Deputy chief Corporal
3 Low High Low Fire at sea DC-officer Lieutenant 4 5
NBCD operator Sailor/Sergeant
4 High High Low Fire at sea DC-officer Lieutenant 4 5
NBCD operator Sailor/Sergeant
5 Low Low High MBDs Chief of the watch Sergeant 5 2
Deputy chief Corporal
6 High Low High MBDs Chief of the watch Sergeant 5 2
Deputy chief Corporal
7 Low High High Battlestations M-officer Lieutenant 4 5
Propulsion operator Sailor/Sergeant
8 High High High Battlestations M-officer Lieutenant 4 5
Propulsion operator Sailor/Sergeant
MBD ¼ Machinery breakdown drill.
Cognitive task load in a ship control centre 1245
Condition 3: Fire at sea 1. A fire alarm in the galley appears in the SCC. The fire is small
and is easily extinguished. Two men are injured, one of whom has an important role in
the fire-fighting organization. During the fire an important door, which should remain
closed at all times, opens.
Condition 4: Fire at sea 2. There is a fire in the front engine room. The correct procedure is
that halon should be inserted as soon as possible, and boundary cooling has a high
priority. However, some problems have to be solved first: there is an injured man is in the
engine room and people are trying to rescue him, and an air valve in the engine room is
stuck in open position. Finally, the halon is inserted, after which boundary cooling has
the highest priority.
Condition 5: Machinery breakdown drill 3. In this scenario the ship is in a high-speed
exercise. At the start an alarm indicates a high temperature in the power turbine. At the
time of the experiment, there was not a predefined procedure for this problem. However,
the correct procedure is to reduce speed. After this procedure, another alarm indicates
vibration in the power turbine. The standard procedure for this is to reduce speed, but
this has already been done. Therefore the procedure should be an emergency stop. The
final problem in this scenario is a combination of two alarms: low pressure in the cooling
water and a bilge water alarm. When these alarms appear simultaneously an emergency
stop on both propulsion shafts must be performed. The bridge allows this, but wants
propulsion recovered as soon as possible.
Condition 6: Machinery breakdown drill 4. In this scenario, the ship is sailing in a narrow
channel. The first alarm that appears is a high-temperature oil alarm for the port cruising
diesel. The standard procedure is a speed reduction or an emergency stop when the
speed is already low (as in this case). However, the bridge does not allow a stop and
alternative propulsion has to be offered first. After offering alternative propulsion on
one side, the bridge asks for the gas turbine on the other side to be started as well.
During high-speed sailing, an alarm appears in the hydraulic system. The correct
procedure is ‘automation failure’. After a short period a l ow-level alarm in the hydraulic
tank is activated, suggesting an oil leakage. An emergency stop must be performed,
but because there is no hydraulic oil left the procedure has become much more
Conditions 7 and 8: Battlestations. These scenarios consist of eight alarms, each of which
is briefly explained below.
1. As a result of a leakage in the chilled water plant, the operator receives a low-
pressure and high-temperature alarm. Before he can determine where the leakage is,
the rear chilled water plant shuts down and he has to change to another
configuration. The leakage has to be repaired, but after the repair the water keeps
rising. Pumping the water outside with an eductor is not really an option because this
uses the pressure of the fire main system (see alarm 3 below).
2. Because of an automation failure, automatic pitch control is no longer possible.
The ‘automation failure’ procedure has to be followed. At the same time an error in
the fuel system controller (FSC) of the gas turbine arises. Now the pitch has to be
controlled by hand from the SCC, and the FSC has to be controlled by hand locally.
When alarm 5 appears, the pitch also has to be controlled locally.
1246 M. Grootjen et al.
3. Personnel in the front main engine room report a leakage in the fire main system.
An emergency repair is required. As long as this leakage is not repaired, some
systems (e.g. high-pressure air) are not usable.
4. A leakage in the primary steering system causes a low-pressure alarm. Extra
personnel are needed to make emergency repairs. Damage repair takes a long time.
5. Because of a software failure, the output layer of some automated systems is
disabled. This gives a remote output disable (ROD) alarm. Many components can no
longer be operated from the SCC. There will not be an audible alarm when this
problem arises, but someone has to see a burning light on the console in front of him.
When detected, the problem can be solved with a (simple) reset.
6. A leakage causes two alarms which appear almost simultaneously: a low-pressure
alarm in the cooling system (seawater) and a bilge water high alarm. Activating
emergency cooling from the SCC is not possible because of the ROD alarm
(alarm 5), and has to be done locally. After this, temperatures still increase and the
procedure for speed reduction of the port propulsion shaft should be performed.
However, the bridge does not allow this. After a while the temperature becomes so
high that an emergency stop is essential, but the bridge still rejects this. The best
solution now is to decrease propulsion as much as possible.
7. The communication system of the manager has a (software) malfunction. He should
warn a specialist to fix it and, in the mean time, find other ways to communicate.
8. As a result of problems in the gas turbine oil system, a high-temperature alarm
appears for a bearing in starboard power turbine, followed by a vibration alarm.
A procedure to reduce speed or an emergency stop has to be performed, but the
bridge does not allow either procedure. After a brief period the machine stops
automatically. The operator should choose the trailing mode for that propulsion
2.4. Video analysis and subjective ratings
All experimental sessions were recorded on video tape. This tape was replayed after
each session, during which the operators and managers had to indicate when they started
and stopped an action. A software tool that was originally developed for a workload
analysis of Lynx helicopter crews (Veltman and Gaillard 1999) was used for this analysis.
Apart from scoring the indicating start and stop times, the participants had to give
a score on a mental effort and a task complexity scale. These rating scales appeared
successively on the computer screen every minute. The participants were instructed to
evaluate the previous minute for these ratings. The range of the rating scales was between
0 and 10 in steps of 0.25 points. A rating could be given by moving a pointer with the
arrow keys and pressing the enter key when the pointer indicated the proper rating.
At the first appearance of the scale, the arrow pointed to the value 5, and at all successive
times it pointed to the last rating entered. Therefore, when effort or complexity was
unchanged during the last minute, the participant could simply indicate this by pressing
the enter key.
It appeared that the participants were unable to indicate the beginnings and endings
of all actions, because there were too many actions to indicate. Therefore only the
ratings from the above-mentioned analysis were used. In order to establish the start
of a new task-set and the beginnings and endings of all actions properly, all video
tapes were analysed by a specialist. Each tape was replayed twice: once to score the
task-sets and actions of the operator, and once to do the same for the manager.
Cognitive task load in a ship control centre 1247
The advantage of this procedure was that the same criteria for all actions were used in
all sessions.
2.5. Variables
The independent variables are the three load factors of the CTL model:
. time occupied;
. number of task-set switches;
. level of information processing.
The CTL method was used to predict a ‘low’ and a ‘high’ level for each independent
variable. This leads to eight different conditions (i.e. scenarios), which can be visualized in
a cube (figure 1).
Five dependent variables were measured. The first three were used to determine the
actual values of the three load factors of the CTL model. These values were used to
validate whether manipulation of the independent variables with the CTL method
succeeded. The last two variables were used to identify critical situations (e.g. underload,
overload, vigilance, and cognitive lock-up situations).
1. Time occupied Video analysis revealed a timeline with all actions during a scenario.
The time occupied was defined as the total time that a participant was busy with the
actions relative to the total scenario time.
2. Number of task-set switches The number of task-set switches was identified from
the video analysis data by the experts. Every time the subjects changed task-set a
function key was pressed.
3. Complexity The complexity of the session was rated each minute. Complexity was
used to validate the independent variable LIP. The average rating in a session was
used for further analysis.
4. Subjective mental effort SME was rated each minute by the participants during
the video replay session. The average rating during a session was used for further
5. Performance Two performance measures were used.
(a) Relative action time All conditions were performed by expert teams to obtain
the expert performance time. The members of these teams were experienced
with the type of alarms that could happen in each condition. The times that
these experts needed to perform the scenarios were used as baseline values for
the participants.
(b) Performance ratings The performance of each participant was rated by two
specialists (the instructor and experiment leader). After all the experiments
were completed, a list of important actions was made for each scenario. The
maximum number of points that could be gained for each action was mainly
based on the ship’s readiness state and the severity of resulting damage due to
human error. Subsequently, the recorded videos were evaluated and ratings
were given by two specialists. Performance notes made by another specialist
during execution of the scenario were also used in this evaluation.
The results of the validation of the method are presented in section 3.1, and the results
of SME investigations and performance measures are given in section 3.2.
1248 M. Grootjen et al.
2.6. Design
The combination of the independent variables resulted in eight different conditions.
A separate scenario had to be developed for each condition. Because it was considered
not to be possible to use the same scenario type (e.g. MBDs) for all conditions, three
different types of scenario were used (table 1). One scenario type was used for the
conditions 1, 2, 5, and 6, one for conditions 3 and 4, and one for conditions 7 and 8.
Only one operator and one manager in each team were evaluated. Thirteen teams
participated in the experiment (10 teams from the ships, and three expert teams for the
pilot and to determine the baseline times). Because of the chosen design, it was not
possible to perform all conditions with the same teams. Four teams performed conditions
1, 2, 5, and 6; three teams performed conditions 3 and 4, and the other three teams
performed conditions 7 and 8. Therefore data from different teams has been compared in
the evaluation of some factors. This may reduce the reliability of the subjective ratings
because subjects generally do not use the same ranges and baselines. For example, some
subjects will give ratings between 4 and 8 and others between 0 and 10. Therefore the
results for TSS have the lowest reliability. The results for TO are from the same teams,
and therefore have the best reliability.
2.7. Apparatus
The experiments took place in the SCC simulator of the RNlN. In addition to the
standard instruments used in the simulator, extra equipment had to be installed to make
audio and video recordings of the scenario. Furthermore, computers and video monitors
had to be installed for the evaluation session. Six cameras, a splitter, a super-VHS video
recorder, a mixing console for audio, and two clip-on microphones were used for the
video and audio recordings. Two laptops, two monitors, and two headphones were used
for the evaluation session.
2.8. Hypotheses
1. Application of the CTL method results in good predictions of the CTL that will
actually appear in the SCC simulator. The experimental set-up provides substantial
differences between low and high variations of TO, TSS, and LIP.
2. When hypothesis 1 is satisfied:
(a) each factor will effect SME and performance;
(b) We can determine critical conditions, such as underload, overload, cognitive
lock-up, and vigilance areas.
2.9. Statistical analyses
In the current experimental set-up only descriptive statistics can be calculated. The
number of teams per corner is too low and different teams have to be compared, which
might increase the variation in the data. Obviously, an experiment of this type is less
controlled and therefore there are fewer subjects. However, many interesting results can
be derived from the data. Therefore the data will be used to describe a trend in addition to
the earlier controlled experiments.
The data of one manager performing the tasks in corners 7 and 8 deviated strongly
from the other data. It appeared that this manager had received little training and was
Cognitive task load in a ship control centre 1249
not motivated during the experiment. Therefore this person was excluded from the
2.10. Procedure
The procedure consisted of the following elements (the numbers in parentheses are the
estimated times):
. introduction (10 minutes);
. instruction (10 minutes);
. warming-up scenario (10 minutes);
. instruction of evaluation (20 minutes);
. experimental scenario (15 minutes);
. evaluation (video replay) of experimental scenario (15 minutes).
The experimental scenario and evaluation took place four times a day, for different
corners. The participants took a short break after each scenario (about 10 minutes).
Because it was hard to get both the manager and the operator in corner 8 of the workload
cube simultaneously, conditions 7 and 8 were combined in one scenario. During the first
part of this scenario the operator was in corner 7 and the manager in corner 8, in the
second part this was reversed. When the participants arrived, they were welcomed and an
introduction to the experiment was given. It was emphasized that the recorded scenarios
would only be used for the experiment, and not for operational assessment of their task
3. Results
The results can be divided into a validation section and an SME and performance
section. The extent to which the experimental manipulations were successful is
described in section 3.1. The relation between the factors in the model and SME and
performance is described in section 3.2. The numerical data for each condition are
presented in table 2.
3.1. Validation
The data for the validation sector are calculated separately for each operator and
manager. Four comparisons, corresponding to the edges of the CTL model, can be made
for each load factor. Therefore this cube is presented in each graph as legend. In every
figure, the predicted low–high levels of the independent variables are shown on the
horizontal axis. The vertical axis shows the actual measured values of the dependent
3.1.1. Time occupied. The measure of TO is defined as the sum of the duration of each
action related to the total duration of the scenario. Figure 4 shows the results for each
team member and each condition.
. For the operators, TO increased only for the teams who performed the high LIP
tasks. The average increase in TO is 3%.
. For the managers, TO increased in all conditions with an average of 6%.
1250 M. Grootjen et al.
Table 2. Average values of all measures for each condition.
Operator Manager
Condition 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Effort rating 2.8 3.1 2.2 3.3 3.9 4.3 5.2 6.8 2.4 3.0 4.9 5.1 4.3 4.5 4 3.1
Complexity rating 2.4 2.5 1.5 2.1 3.7 3.9 4.1 6 2.5 3.1 4.2 5 4.7 4.7 4.6 3.6
Relative action time 155 140 93 115 176 103 193 123 152 126 136 111 181 146 168 182
Performance 5.5 8 6.8 6.3 6.7 6.1 6.2 6 6.4 8.5 6.7 6.1 8.2 7.8 4.8 7.2
TO 44.2 42.2 33.9 29.4 37.3 42.4 54.5 68.1 54.9 58.2 51.7 53.2 65.5 70.8 53.5 68.1
TSS 2 2 5 11 4 2 9 13 2 2 17 16 6 4 26 32
LIP 2.4 2.5 1.5 2.1 3.7 3.9 4.1 6 2.5 3.1 4.2 5 4.7 4.7 4.6 3.6
TO experts 37 40 42 25 34 56 37 72 46 63 39 53 56 66 42 55
TSS experts 1 2 2 9 3 2 10 4 1 2 13 8 3 4 14 18
Cognitive task load in a ship control centre 1251
3.1.2. Task-set switches. TSS is defined as the number of times a team member started
a new task-set. The results are presented in figure 5.
. TSS was much higher in the ‘high’ condition than in the ‘low’ condition, especially
for the managers.
. TSS for the operators increases with an average of 7.
. TSS for the managers increases with an average of 19.
. It should be noted that ‘low’ and ‘high’ TSS conditions are performed by different
3.1.3. Level of information processing. LIP is validated by the ‘complexity’ ratings.
Operators rated the complexity each minute during the video replay session. The average
ratings are shown in figure 6.
Figure 4. Percentage of time occupied.
Figure 5. Number of task-set switches.
1252 M. Grootjen et al.
. The operators provided much higher ratings in the ‘high’ than in the ‘low’ LIP
condition (average increase of 9.2). Moreover, the effects for high TSS (dotted lines,
triangles and diamonds) are much more pronounced than those for low TSS (solid
lines, circles and squares).
. This effect was less pronounced for the managers (average increase of 2.8); indeed, the
opposite effect was found for high TSS and high TO (dotted line, triangles).
. It should be noted that the ‘low’ and ‘high’ levels of the solid lines were obtained from
the same teams, and the levels of the dotted lines were obtained from different teams.
The strong positive slope of the dotted lines for the operators and the negative slope
of the dotted line (triangles) for the managers may be due to this reduced reliability.
3.1.4. Summary of the validation.
. The factor TO resulted in higher values only for the operators performing the high
LIP condition. The values found for operators performing the low LIP condition are
the opposite of what was expected: the high conditions had a lower TO than the low
conditions. The data for the managers are all in the expected direction: the values of
all high conditions are higher than the low conditions. However, on six of the eight
high–low comparisons, the difference in TO is very small (55.3%), and so the
manipulation of TO did not result in substantial differences.
. For all operators and managers large differences were measured between the low and
high conditions of TSS. Thus ‘task-set switches’ was a valid experimental factor.
. For the operators, higher complexity ratings were measured on all high LIP
conditions. For the managers, only one line is in the non-expected direction (the high
TO, high TSS line). Overall we can conclude that there was a substantial difference
between the ‘low’ and ‘high’ levels of this factor in the expected direction.
3.2. SME and performance
The data points are plotted in 3D graphs to give an overview of the results in a similar
way as the 3D task load model. Each figure shows the actual measured values
of an independent variable for each condition (i.e. predicted low–high levels of
Figure 6. Task complexity ratings.
Cognitive task load in a ship control centre 1253
the independent variables). The results for each factor of the CTL model are described
separately. Four conditions can be compared for the operators and four for the
managers, giving a total of eight comparisons. Conditions 1 and 2, 3 and 4, 5 and 6, and
7 and 8 are compared for the factor TO, conditions 1 and 3, 2 and 4, 5 and 7, and 6 and 8
are compared for the factor TSS, and conditions 1 and 5, 2 and 6, 3 and 7, and 4 and 8 are
compared for the factor LIP. Each 3D graph is accompanied by a table showing the
average values and the positive or negative direction of each comparison. Section 3.1
shows that the manipulation of TO and LIP for the managers failed. Obviously, this has
consequences for the results on CTL and performance, and should be taken into account
in the interpretation.
3.2.1. Subjective mental effort ratings. Participants rated their effort expenditure each
minute during the replay of the video. The results are presented in figure 7 and table 3.
Time occupied:
. for the operators, all high TO conditions resulted in higher SME;
. for the managers, only condition 8 shows a lower SME score than condition 7;
. the average increase in SME in the high TO conditions was rather small (0.5).
Task-set switches:
. for the operators, three of the high TSS conditions had higher SME ratings, and the
fourth condition had a lower value; condition 3 showed lower values than condition 1;
Figure 7. Average subjective mental effort ratings of the operators and managers for each
Table 3. Subjective mental effort: average differences between the high and low conditions and
number changes in the positive direction for each factor of the CTL model.
Average change Changes in positive direction
Operator Manager Total Operator Manager Total
TO 0.9 0.1 0.5 4/4 3/4 7/8
TSS 0.9 0.7 0.8 3/4 2/4 5/8
LIP 2.2 0.1 1.2 4/4 2/4 6/8
1254 M. Grootjen et al.
. for the managers, two high TSS conditions showed higher SME ratings, and two
showed a lower rating; condition 7 is a little lower than condition 5 and condition 8 is
lower than condition 6;
. the average increase in SME in the high TSS condition was 0.8;
. it should be noted the teams performing the low TSS conditions were different from
the teams performing the high TSS conditions; therefore the comparisons for the TSS
are less reliable.
Level of information processing:
. for the operators, all high LIP conditions resulted in higher SME;
. for the managers, two high LIP conditions showed a higher SME, and two showed a
lower SME; condition 7 was lower than condition 3 and condition 8 was lower than
condition 4;
. the average increase in the high LIP conditions was 1.2, which was much higher than
for the factors TO and TSS; this increase in SME is completely due to the operators;
. it should be noted that the data from the managers in conditions 7 and 8 are from two
teams only, whereas the data from conditions 3 and 4 are from three teams; therefore
comparisons of 3 and 7 and of 4 and 8 are less reliable;
. the teams that performed conditions 3 and 4 were different from those performing
conditions 7 and 8, which also makes the comparisons less reliable.
3.2.2. Performance-relative action time. Figure 8 and table 4 present the relative action
time, i.e. the time that the participants were actively involved in performing actions
relative to the time that the experts needed for these actions.
Time occupied:
. for the operators, only one high TO condition had a higher relative action time;
condition 4 has a higher action time than condition 3;
. for the managers, the only high TO condition with a higher relative action time is 8,
compared with condition 7;
. thus six of the eight comparisons showed higher relative action times for low TO
conditions: the average difference between the low and high condition was high (26%).
Figure 8. Relative action time for each condition.
Cognitive task load in a ship control centre 1255
Task-set switches:
. TSS did not show a consistent pattern of results (average change of 7%);
. for the operators, two high TSS conditions showed a higher relative action time;
. for the managers, only one high TSS condition showed a higher relative action
Level of information processing:
. for the operators, three high LIP conditions showed higher relative action times; only
condition 6 showed a lower relative action time than condition 2;
. for the managers, all high LIP conditions showed higher relative action times;
. the high LIP conditions resulted in a substantial increase in relative action time; the
average difference between the low and high conditions was 38%.
3.2.3. Performance: expert ratings. Figure 9 and table 5 present the performance ratings
provided by experts.
Time occupied:
. the operators scored lower expert ratings on three high TO conditions; only condition
2 scored higher than condition 1;
Table 4. Relative action time (%): average differences between the high and low conditions
and number changes in the positive direction for each factor of the CTL model.
Average change Changes in positive direction
Operator Manager Total Operator Manager Total
TO 734 718 726 1/4 1/4 2/8
TSS 713 72 77 2/4 1/4 3/8
LIP 23 38 31 3/4 4/4 7/8
Figure 9. Average performance scores (ratings provided by experts) for each condition.
1256 M. Grootjen et al.
. the managers scored lower expert ratings on two high TO conditions; condition
2 scored higher than condition 1 and condition 8 scored higher than 7;
. the average reduction in expert ratings for the high TO conditions was 0.6 points.
Task-set switches:
. the operators scored lower expert ratings on three high TSS conditions; only
condition 3 scored higher than condition 1;
. the managers scored lower expert ratings on three high TSS conditions; only
condition 3 scored higher than condition 1;
. the average reduction on the high TSS conditions was 0.9 points, which was mainly
due to the reduced performance of the managers (1.5 points).
Level of information processing:
. the operators scored lower expert ratings on three high LIP conditions; only condition
5 scored higher than condition 1;
. the managers scored lower expert ratings on two high LIP conditions; condition
5 scored higher than condition 1 and condition 8 scored higher than condition 7;
. the average reductions in performance score was only 0.2 points.
3.2.4. Summary of the SME and performance section.
. LIP had the greatest impact on the SME ratings, especially for the operators.
. The participants needed more time to perform the required actions than the
experts. A substantial additional increase was found in the high LIP conditions,
whereas in the high TO and high TSS conditions the participants needed relatively
less extra time.
. On six of the eight low TO conditions the participants had a higher relative action
time (with an average of 26%) compared with the high TO conditions. Apparently the
participants used extra time in low TO conditions.
4. Discussion
The design and results of the experiment have been reported in the previous two sections.
We applied the CTL method and implemented the scenarios in the RNlN simulator.
The CTL method appears to be very useful for predicting the ‘location’ of a scenario in the
task–load space. However, the following points of discussion arose during the research.
Table 5. Performance: average differences between the high and low conditions and number
changes in the negative direction for each factor of the CTL model.
Average change Changes in negative direction
Operator Manager Total Operator Manager Total
TO 70.3 70.9 70.6 3/4 2/4 5/8
TSS 70.2 71.5 70.9 3/4 3/4 6/8
LIP 70.4 0.1 70.2 3/4 2/4 5/8
Cognitive task load in a ship control centre 1257
4.1. TO, TSS, and LIP
Manipulation of TO was not successful. In particular, the low TO conditions were very
hard to manipulate. As we did not have any problems with this in earlier more controlled
experiments, this appears to be attributable to the complexity of this experiment.
However, the results of the experts on TO are much more in line with our expectations
(figure 10). Only the manipulation of conditions 3 and 4 failed. Based on the expert data
of figure 10, we would expect an even larger effect on TO for the participants because of
the effect of TSS and LIP on TO. An explanation can be found in the relative action time.
The participants used relatively more time (compared with the experts) in the low TO
conditions than in the high TO conditions (figure 8). This could be because they realized
that they had more time available, because there was little or no time pressure, and made
use of it.
The manipulation of TSS worked quite well. Small differences between the low and
high TSS conditions were found on SME (i.e. an increase of 0.8 for the managers);
however, performance degraded on high TSS conditions, especially for the managers
(expert ratings decreased by 1.5). As was also found by Neerincx et al. (2000) and
Neerincx and Passenier (2000), high TSS is a critical factor in current and new ships of
the Royal Netherlands Navy. As can be seen in figure 11 and table 6, in most conditions
the participants switch much more than in the optimal strategy folowed by the experts.
Based on these data, a scheduler to help the operator determine an efficient strategy,
as described by Grootjen et al. (2002), seems necessary to keep the performance at
acceptable levels.
The manipulation of LIP worked well. The SME ratings for high LIP increased, the
expert performance ratings were slightly lower, and the relative action time strongly
increased at high LIP conditions. This large effect of LIP was also found in earlier
research (Grootjen et al. 2002, Neerincx and van Besouw 2001, Neerincx et al. 2003a).
An effective way of supporting highly complex situations was described in Neerincx and
Lindenberg (2000), where the use of a diagnostic guide and a rule provider reduced the
complexity and kept the performance at the desired level.
Neerincx (2003) distinguished several critical regions (underload, vigilance, cognitive
lock-up, and overload). Figure 1 gives an overview of these regions. Obviously we are
Figure 10. TO for the experts.
1258 M. Grootjen et al.
interested in finding these critical regions in the data for the current experiment, i.e. for
corners 1 (underload), 2 (vigilance), 4 (cognitive lock-up), and 8 (overload and cognitive
Corner 1 has a low SME score (average 2.6), a low performance score on the expert
ratings (average 6.0) and a very high relative action time (154%). A possible explanation
for these low scores could indeed be underload of the participants.
In contrast with what should be expected when vigilance appeared, corner 2 has a high
performance score (average 8.3). SME was low (average 3.1). Apparently managers and
operators like to work in this condition, with no difficult tasks and almost no switches
between tasks. They used extra time to achieve this high score (average relative action
time 133%); the relative action time is higher in this condition than in the high TSS and
high LIP conditions (corners 4 and 6). Vigilance is a well-known problem which appears
when operators have to monitor tasks continuously or when boredom arises in highly
repetitive tasks (Levine et al. 1973, Parasuraman 1986). Neither of these causes appeared
in our scenario; scenarios took only 15 minutes and were too short for vigilance problems
to appear.
No evidence of cognitive lock-up was found in corners 4 and 8. This could be partially
because we did not specifically evaluate the scenarios on cognitive lock-up. However, the
expert ratings decreased when the participants switched too late to a problem with higher
priority, and so serious cognitive lock-up would have been found in the expert ratings.
The operators in corner 8 appeared to be overloaded. Compared with the experts, the
operators made 333% switches between tasks, with an SME of 6.8, a relative action
time of 123%, and expert ratings of 6.0. The high TSS, combined with a TO that is almost
Figure 11. TSS for the participants relative to TSS for the experts (%).
Table 6. TSS data of the participants, experts, and the relative TSS (%).
Operator Manager
Condition 1234567812345678
TSS experts 12293210412138341418
TSS (%)
150 100 250 126 117 100 93 333 150 100 128 196 192 88 186 178
Cognitive task load in a ship control centre 1259
the same as the TO of the experts (95%) (figure 12), showed that they did not know what
to do. The signs of overload are less obvious for the managers in corner 8; however,
they have a high relative action time (182%) and their relative TSS is 178%. In contrast
with the operators, the managers appear to take more time to perform their tasks at
high CTL.
4.2. Experimental method
In the original experimental set-up, the participants had to indicate the start and finish of
all their actions after the scenario. As stated in section 2.3, the participants were unable to
do this in the current set-up because there were too many actions to indicate. The data
that were collected from this evaluation were not used. Instead of the participants
evaluating the action times, this was done by two experts. The experts sometimes found it
difficult to ascertain whether an operator or a manager was performing an action, and of
course they could only evaluate the visible interactions with the system. Therefore some
actions that were quite demanding (i.e. thinking about complex problems) were hard to
evaluate. For example, monitoring the system has not been noted as action. This had
consequences for the evaluation of the operator in the fire scenario (corners 3 and 4)
whose main task was monitoring the smoke boundaries.
After each scenario the participants had to rate its complexity and effort. Each minute,
first complexity and immediately afterwards mental effort had to be scored. As can be
seen in table 7, the values are highly correlated. Despite the thorough explanation, it is
possible that the participants found it difficult to distinguish between complexity and
effort and scored similar values.
Figure 12. TO for the participants relative to the TO for the experts.
Table 7. Correlation between complexity and effort ratings.
Operator Manager
Condition 1 2 3 4567812345678
Complexity rating 2.4 2.5 1.5 2.1 3.7 3.9 4.1 6 2.5 3.1 4.2 5 4.7 4.7 4.6 3.6
Effort rating 2.8 3.1 2.2 3.3 3.9 4.3 5.2 6.8 2.4 3.0 4.9 5.1 4.3 4.5 4 3.1
Correlation 0.97 0.91
1260 M. Grootjen et al.
The variation in subjective ratings between participants can be high because
participants use different baselines. Complexity ratings do not provide absolute values
but are relative to the individual’s baseline. As long as the same subject provides ratings
for all the conditions to be analysed, this does not pose a problem. However, if conditions
containing ratings from different participants are compared, the comparison becomes less
As explained in section 2.9, it was not possible for both the operator and the manager
to be in corner 8 simultaneously. Therefore we switched conditions 7 and 8 for the
manager. During the experiments it became clear that it was not possible to switch
conditions 7 and 8 for the operator and the manager entirely independently of each other;
the managers (in condition 7) helped the operators (in condition 8). This could be an
explanation for the low performance and high SME score for the managers in
condition 7.
After the experiments an expert from the RNlN gave his opinion of the poor
performance of the M-officer in general. Compared with the (propulsion) operator, the
M-officer spends much less time in the SCC, in fact only in a high-readiness state.
However, an operators spends many hours in the SCC during his career, not only in high-
readiness states, but also in normal circumstances.
By performing and analysing the scenarios, the participants learnt about their mistakes
during the experiments. This could have been of particular benefit to the managers of
the MBD scenarios (corners 1, 2, 5, and 6 of the cube) who came back as operators in
the battlestation scenarios (corners 7 and 8). The scenarios differ from each other, but
some actions could have been repeated in conditions 7 and 8.
The operators who participated in the fire scenarios (corners 3 and 4) differed in rank,
education and experience. The reason for this is that the person doing this task is not
prescribed. Accordingly, one ship sent a petty-officer and another sent a sailor to act in
this function, and this probably influenced the results.
Some conditions are not very common in certain domains. For example in our
experiment, it is difficult to produce a scenario with high TSS and low TO. This problem
was partially overcome by choosing different types of scenarios, but some combinations
of load factor are still hard to construct.
Although we found signs of underload, the experimetal set-up appeared to be
mainly concentrated on overload. During the experiment we noticed that a substantial
increase in scenario time will be needed to detect further underload and vigilance
problems, and that operators are not inclined to ‘do nothing’ in a simulator that is
being used for training. However, the importance of underload has already been
demonstrated in some other domains. For example, Young and Stanton (2002) show
that automation in an automobile can lead to a substantial reduction in mental
workload. In the case of an automation failure, driver errors could occur. In a subsequent
experiment, we will study underload in more detail during crew operations on an
ADCF at sea.
5. Conclusions and recommendations
5.1. Conclusions
This experiment provided further empirical support for the CTL model and method, and
gives an initial estimation of the critical load values for the SCC. In general we can draw
the following conclusions.
Cognitive task load in a ship control centre 1261
1. The CTL method provides a good prediction of the task load on TSS and LIP that
will actually appear in the SCC simulator. The manipulation of LIP and TSS was
successful; no substantial differences were found on TO.
2. High levels of TSS and LIP resulted in a reduced performance and increased SME.
A reduction in performance of expert ratings was found for all high conditions; the
largest reduction was found for managers in the high TSS condition. The largest
effects on SME were found for the operators, especially at high LIP. Because the
manipulation of TO failed, little or no effect on performance and SME could be
found. In corner 1 the participants scored low on performance and underload was
detected. Corner 8 showed signs of overload, especially for the operators. They
scored low on performance and high on SME. No signs of vigilance problems and
cognitive lock-up could be found.
This experiment was conducted in a realistic complex high-demand environment.
Because the evaluation was performed with real end-users the number of participants was
limited, and so no statistical analysis could be performed. However, similar results were
found in earlier more controlled experiments with more participants (the statistical
analyses of these experiments proved that their results were significant). For example,
Neerincx and van Besouw (2001), Grootjen et al. (2002), and Neerincx et al. (2003a)
determined high values of LIP and TSS. Neerincx and Griffioen (1996) identified a critical
overload and an adequate load area for LIP and TO, similar to that found in the current
experiment, for operators in the railway traffic control centre of the Netherlands
5.2. Future research
Obviously, the ultimate goal is to keep the operator in the optimal CTL space of figure 1.
By using a scenario-based design (Carroll 2000) and the CTL method and model, we are
now able to predict CTL in the design process of new systems. Tools such as task
allocation (Neerincx et al. 2003b) and interface support can be used to keep the operator
in an optimal load space during design. Grootjen et al. (2002) validated an interface
concept which was specifically designed to support the operator on the CTL load factors.
Unfortunately, not everything can be foreseen in the design process. Because of this,
another set of tools is needed to keep the CTL at an optimum level. Alty (2003) suggested
the development of adaptive systems as a possible way forward for decreasing cognitive
workload, particularly in the control of large dynamic systems. Two examples are given
The first example is adaptive interface support. The level of automation and the
amount of information supply can be altered using an adaptive interface. A second
example is task allocation. Task allocation refers to the process of redistributing tasks
amongst actors, with the overall goal of improving overall system performance (Endsley
and Kaber 1999). Such redistribution is usually a response to a change in either
situational factors or actor characteristics. In response to a sudden increase in workload,
a task could shift from operator control to system control. These examples of cognitive
support should depend on the operator state (e.g. physiological measures) and task
demands (CTL model). Subsequently, information about context and the technical
system are needed to form an adequate adaptation mechanism.
One of the major issues in this form of automation is whether the system or the
operator should initiate the change. van der Kruit (2004) explicitly distinguishes two
1262 M. Grootjen et al.
different forms of automation. The first is adaptable automation, which occurs when the
control of a task shifts from the operator to the system, or vice versa, initiated by the
operator and because of operator-perceived changes in the state of the world. The second
is adaptive automation which occurs when the control of a task shifts from the operator
to the system or vice versa, initiated by the system, and because of system-perceived
changes in the state of the world. Current research suggests the possibilities of a third
form of automation, in which the change is determined by operator and system together.
Obviously, research about adaptive (or adaptable) support is still in its infancy.
Much interesting and challenging human factors issues for real-time application are
still undiscovered. The CTL model seems to provide a good basis to develop such
ALTY, J.L., 2003, Cognitive workload and adaptive systems. In Handbook of Cognitive Task Design, E. Hollnagel
(Ed.), pp. 129–146 (Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum).
EEVIS, D., 1992, Analysis techniques for man–machine systems design. NATO/Panel 8-RSG.14, Technical
Report AC/243(Panel 8)TR/7, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Brussels.
OEHNE, D.M. and PAESE, P.W., 2000, Deciding whether to complete or terminate an unfinished project: a strong
test of the project completion hypothesis. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 2, 178–194.
ARROLL, J.M., 2000, Making Use: Scenario-Based Design of Human–Computer Interactions (Cambridge, MA:
MIT Press).
NDSLEY, M.R. and KABER, D.B., 1999, Level of automation effects on performance, situation awareness and
workload in a dynamic control task. Ergonomics, 42, 462–492.
ROOTJEN, M., NEERINCX, M.A. and PASSENIER, P.O., 2002, Cognitive task load and support on a ship’s bridge:
design and evaluation of a prototype user interface. In Proceedings INEC 2002, pp. 198–207.
ELANDER, M., LANDAUER, T.K. and PRABHU, P.V., 1997, Handbook of Human–Computer Interaction, 2nd edn
(Amsterdam: North-Holland).
OLLNAGEL, E., 2003, Handbook of Cognitive Task Design (Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum).
ACKO, J.A. and SEARS, A., 2003, The Human–Computer Interaction Handbook: Fundamentals, Evolving
Technologies and Emerging Applications (Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum).
ERSTHOLT, J.H. and PASSENIER, P.O., 2000 Fault management in supervisory control: the effect of false alarms
and support. Ergonomics, 43, 1371–1387.
IRWAN, B. and A INSWORTH, L.K., 1992, A Guide to Task Analysis (London: Taylor & Francis).
OUBEK, R.J., BENYSH, D., BUCK, M., HARVEY, C.M. and REYNOLDS, M., 2003, The development of a theoretical
framework and design tool for process usability assessment. Ergonomics, 46, 220–241.
EVINE, J.M., ROMASHKO, T. and FLEISHMAN, E.A., 1973, Evaluation of an abilities classification system for
integrating and generalizing human performance research findings: an application to vigilance tasks. Journal
of Applied Psychology, 58, 149–157.
AGUIRE, M., 2001, Methods to support human-centred design. International Journal of Human–Computer
Studies, 55, 587–634.
AYHEW, D.J., 1999, The Usability Engineering Lifecycle: A Practitioner’s Handbook for User Interface Design
(San Francisco, CA: Morgan Kaufman).
EERINCX, M.A., 2003, Cognitive task load design: model, methods and examples. In Handbook of Cognitive
Task Design, E. Hollnagel (Ed.), pp. 283–305 (Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum).
EERINCX, M.A. and VAN BESOUW, N.J.P., 2001, Cognitive task load: a function of time occupied, level of
information processing and task-set switches. Industrial Ergonomics, HCI, and Applied Cognitive Psychology,
6, 247–254.
EERINCX, M.A. and GRIFFIOEN, E., 1996, Cognitive task analysis: harmonizing task to human capacity.
Ergonomics, 39, 543–561.
EERINCX, M.A. and LINDENBERG, J., 2000, DISCII: Design of interface support for task-set switching and
integration, Report TM-00-D006, TNO Human Factors Research Institute, Soesterberg, The Netherlands.
EERINCX, M.A. and PASSENIER, P.O., 2000, Cognitive engineering for the ADCF Integrated Monitoring and
Control System, Report TM-00-A031/E, TNO Human Factors Research Institute, Soesterberg,
The Netherlands.
Cognitive task load in a ship control centre 1263
NEERINCX, M.A., VAN DOORNE, H. and RUIJSENDAAL, M., 2000, Attuning computer-supported work to human
knowledge and processing capacities in ship control centres. In Cognitive Task Analysis, J.M.C. Schraagen,
S.E. Chipman and V.L. Shalin (Eds.), pp. 341–362 (Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum).
EERINCX, M.A., VAN BESOUW, N.J.P. and STREEFKERK, J.W., 2003a, Cognitive task load: memory capacity and
switch costs. Report, TNO Human Factors Research Institute, Soesterberg, The Netherlands.
cognitive load distributions for envisioned task allocations and support functions. In 13th International SCSS
(CDROM) Orlando.
EERINCX, M.A., RYPKEMA, J.A. and PASSENIER, P.O., 2003c, Cognitive and functional (COLFUN) framework
for envisioning and assessing high-demand situations. In 9th European Symposium on Cognitive Science
Approaches to Process Control, pp. 11–16 (Amsterdam, The Netherlands: EACI Conference Series).
ARASURAMAN, R., 1986, Vigilance, monitoring, and search. In Handbook of Perception and Human Performance,
Vol. 2, Cognitive Processes and Performance, KR. Boff, L. Kaufman and J.P. Thomas (Eds.), pp. 1 39
(New York: John Wiley).
ASMUSSEN, J., 1986, Information Processing and Human–Machine Interaction: An Approach to Cognitive
Engineering (Amsterdam: Elsevier).
OSSON, M.B. and CARROLL, J.M., 2001, Usability Engineering: Scenario-based Development of Human–Computer
Interaction (San Francisco: Morgan Kaufman).
operator Westerscheldetunnel, Report TNO TM-02-C039, TNO Human Factors Research Institute,
Soesterberg, The Netherlands.
CHRAAGEN, J.M.C., CHIPMAN, S.E. and SHALIN, V.L. (Eds.), 2000, Cognitive Task Analysis (Mahwah, NJ:
VAN DER KRUIT, V.L.I., 2004, Adaptive automation in command and control decision making. Report,
TNO Human Factors Research Institute, Soesterberg, The Netherlands.
VAN VEENENDAAL, J., 2002, Mental load of officer of the watch: an explorative study on the possibilities to add
tasks and computer support on the bridge, Royal Netherlands Navy Institute.
ELTMAN, J.A. and GAILLARD, A.W.K., 1999, Mental workload of the tactical co-ordinator of the Lynx helicopter,
Report TM A-036, TNO Human Factors Research Institute, Soesterberg, The Netherlands.
ELTMAN,J.A.andGAILLARD, A.W.K., 1996, Pilot workload evaluated with subjective and physi ological
measures. In Aging and Human Factors , K. Brookhuis, C. Weikert, J. Moraal and D. de Waard (Eds.),
pp. 107–128.
ICKENS, C.D., 1992, Engineering Psychology and Human Performance, 2nd edn (New York: Harper-Collins).
OUNG, M.S. and STANTON, N.A., 2002, Malleable attentional resources theory: a new explanation for the effects
of mental underload on performance. Human Factors, 44, 365–375.
IJLSTRA, F.R.H., 1993, Efficiency in Work Behaviour (Delft, The Netherlands: Delft University Press).
1264 M. Grootjen et al.
... Failures in task management can have significant consequences for team performance and have even been linked to deaths of patients as well as emergency responders (Hicks et al, 2008;LeSage et al, 2011). To more fully understand the factors that influence task management it is helpful to briefly discuss the cognitive task load (CTL) model (Figure 9.7) proposed by Grootjen et al (2006). ...
... • how often a person is required to switch between different tasks • the amount of bandwidth 'information processing' needed to complete the task (Grootjen et al, 2006) Several factors can have an impact on the leader's ability to manage the tasks which he or she is asking the team to execute. This may include how stable the tasks are, the resources available within the team, the function of team members, and the relationships between the tasks (Scerri et al, 2005). ...
... The cognitive task load model. Source: Adapted from:Grootjen et al (2006) Yerkes-Dodson model. ...
Full-text available
In this chapter: ● Forming teams ● Shared cognition in teamwork ● Tools and techniques that can be adopted in pre-hospital teams
... First, we developed a model of cognitive task load (CTL) that could be used to harmonize the task demands to the human capacities via task allocation and design of cognitive support, for example, to prevent overload and cognitive lock-up during damage control on the naval ship. This theory is being parametrized for the naval domain (for example, the specific regions of overload and cognitive lock-up were defined for naval operators; Grootjen et al., 2006c). Second, we distinguished current support concepts for the harmonization and, based on these concepts, defined a specific set of support functions and support modes as "building blocks" for the adaptive functions in future naval ships. ...
... The two components of SEAMATE (that is, model and metrics, and functions) have been specified and assessed in numerous cycles in case studies with the Royal Netherlands Navy (see Figure 18.1). First, we established and refined the situated CTL model and metrics in empirical studies on board of naval frigates and in a highfidelity simulator (Grootjen et al., 2006a(Grootjen et al., , 2006c. Secondly, we transformed general cognitive support functions into situated "building blocks" of support functions for naval ship operations, and evaluated these "building blocks" in several experiments to refine the support functions (Grootjen et al., 2002;Neerincx, 2003;. ...
Full-text available
This chapter presents a generic cognitive engineering methodology for the design of human-machine collaboration in which both human factors and technological constraints are being addressed in an iterative development process. Two case studies show how this approach can be tailored to the specific needs of an application domain and refined into a toolkit for design guidance. In the space domain, the SUITE tool reduces the time and cost of development efforts, whereas it improves the usability of procedures and interfaces. The SCOPE framework supports nominal and off-nominal operations effectively and efficiently. In the naval domain, the SEAMATE tool aims at intelligent user interfaces in future naval ships. The research in both domains can be viewed as exemplars of a generic cognitive engineering methodology, improving the general foundation of effective and efficient human-machine collaboration. It addresses the reflection of the local (situated) engineering processes, in order to prevent being locked in design directions resulting from old Technological Design Spaces (TDSs), Human Factors methods and/or support concepts.
... When TO and TSS are high, cognitive lock-up can occur, and the operator may have difficulties in shifting focus and thus get stuck on single faults. When all of these three dimensions are at high levels, overload occurs (Grootjen et al., 2006;Neerincx, 2003). This categorisation scheme distinguishes Cognitive Load states in a dynamic sense. ...
The advance in digital technologies is placing increasingly high demands on users’ cognitive capabilities, resulting in ubiquitous cognitive challenges (e.g. memory overload) in everyday interaction with products. Such challenges can be attributed to the inadequate understanding of cognitive capability for informing design. The literature review further specifies that current research has largely ignored how user cognition is understood and implemented by designers. This study thus aims to advance the understanding of user cognition by adding the designers’ perspective. This research adopts a mixed method approach, which helps highlight and address the designerly ways of knowing as well as the implicit nature of cognition in design. The research framework consists of three phases. First, the language differences between design practise and cognitive research were confirmed by interviewing designers and analysing designers’ articles. Second, a review of design languages of cognition and ethnographic fieldwork were conducted to explore the designerly ways of understanding and implementing cognition. Finally, the findings were tested in a larger-scale survey. By explicating the related design languages, this research elucidates designers’ Micro, Meso, and Macro perspectives on user cognition, thereby expanding the current rational information-processing conception of cognition to a more context-based understand- ing. The multiple perspectives also add more embodied and situated considerations to the conventional focus on elementary information processing capacity, advancing the existing understanding of users’ cognitive capabilities. Hence, this study enhances the predominant way of conceptualising user cognition in design research and empirically supports the postulated situated nature of cognition in cognitive research. Furthermore, it recognises a specific application field within the broader landscape of cognitive research, suggesting that designing interactions has its own research agenda rather than relying on other established sub-areas.
... A majority of the mainstream studies in MHF/STS examine work and humantechnology interaction in broadly cognitivist (computational and information processing) terms focusing on such constructs as situation awareness Cordon et al., 2017;Saetrevik and Hystad, 2017;Sharma et al., 2019), mental workload (Hockey et al., 2003;Wu et al., 2017;Wulvik et al., 2019) and decision making (Chauvin and Lardjane, 2008). Many studies aim at modeling the user and/or validate and verify particular technologies under development (Costa et al., 2018) against some measure of human cognitive processing, such as decision making (Dhami and Grabowski, 2010), cognitive workload (Cummings et al., 2010;Gould et al., 2009;Grootjen et al., 2006), situation awareness (Man et al., 2018c;Øvergård et al., 2015;Pazouki et al., 2018), cognitive human/team performance (Cohen et al., 2015;Grabowski and Wallace, 1993) or usability (Costa et al., 2018;Man et al., 2018b). ...
Full-text available
The shipping industry is currently facing a major challenge related to environmental sustainability and energy efficiency. New regulations and ambitious international goals that aim at mitigating carbon-based emissions with 50 %, demands on profitability, along with a growing awareness about the climate change, has prompted the maritime sector to increasingly focus on how to improve energy efficiency and reduce fuel consumption in ship operations. This thesis aims at describing and understanding the challenges of improving energy efficiency seen from the lens of crew members' work and to investigate the adoption, appropriation and use of particular technologies, purported to support energy efficiency in ship operation. Using an ethnographic approach and drawing on various practice-based concepts and theories such as communities of practice, activity theory and the imbrication of material and social agency, the four papers (I-IV) included in the thesis were based on extensive field studies in two shipping companies and onboard 11 passenger ferries. The empirical studies revealed that the introduction of new technologies and their subsequent incorporation in and change of established skills and practices is a complex social process depending on the knowing and learning of practitioners as well as their activities, meanings, identities and norms as developed and negotiated in specific settings over time. The thesis contributes to our general understanding of the situated process of adoption, appropriation and use of new technologies in the maritime domain and the sociomaterial nature of energy efficiency.
... Somit kann das Modell über die Schnittstellenentwicklung hinaus auch zur Aufgabenallokation verwendet werden (ebd.) und empfiehlt sich somit für die Arbeitsgestaltung (für Anwendungsbeispiele siehe Colin et al., 2012;Grootjen et al., 2006Grootjen et al., , 2007Neerincx et al., 2003 Rasmussen, 1983Rasmussen, , 1985Rasmussen, , 1986Rasmussen et al., 1994) Bild 6: CTL-Skala mit Hinweisen zur Gestaltung der Aufgabenwahrnehmung. ...
Conference Paper
In der Planungsphase von Leitwarten werden neben der Gestaltung der Arbeits-mittel und der Arbeitsumgebung auch die Aufgaben geplant. Hierbei ist die Gewährleistung der zeitlichen Vereinbarkeit, unter Berücksichtigung von Sicher-heitszuschlägen, ein erster Schritt in der Aufgabenallokation. Für die Bearbeitung komplexer Aufgabenzusammenhänge müssen die durch nicht planbare, intrans-parente, umfangreiche, dynamische und sich untereinander beeinflussende Aufgabeninhalte entstehenden psycho-mentalen Anforderungen Berücksichtigung finden. Das gelingt mit zeitlichen Sicherheitszuschlägen nur unzureichend, da in Multitaskingsituationen die parallel ablaufenden Prozesse auch parallele Informa-tionsverarbeitung in Echtzeit erfordern können. Der folgende Beitrag zentriert die Frage, wie viel Multitasking ist unter welchen Umständen in der Prozess-überwachung und-steuerung zweckmäßig. Dafür wird das Modell zur Prognose der mentalen Beanspruchung (cognitive task load model) vorgestellt und auf diese Fragestellung angepasst. Anpassungen des Originalmodells werden ausführlich hergeleitet und betreffen die theoretischen Grundlagen sowie die Prognose des Beanspruchungswertes mittels Fuzzy Logik. Um das angepasste Modell zu validieren, wurden die Ergebnisse mit 450 Beanspruchungswerten einer Feldstudie in Verkehrsleitzentralen gegenübergestellt und statistisch ausgewertet.
... weiterhin wahrzunehmenden zusätzlichen Aufgaben zu verzeichnen ist (z.B. Bainbridge, 1987;Endsley, 1999;Grootjen et al., 2006). Diese überproportionale Beanspruchung durch derartige Doppel-und Mehrfachaufgabenkonstellationen kann unter Umständen zu einer risiko-und sogar fehlerbehafteten Aufgabenerledigung führen (z.B. durch Beeinträchtigung des Situationsbewusstseins, siehe dazu Endsley, 1999). ...
Conference Paper
Der vorgestellte Ausschnitt einer Forschungsarbeit zentriert die Frage: Wie können schon in der Gestaltungsphase einer Benutzungsoberfläche, unabhängig von der Expertise des Designers, die zusätzlichen informatorischen und arbeitsorganisatorischen Anforderungen durch Mehrfachaufgaben Berücksichtigung finden? Um sich dieser Fragestellung zu nähern, wird eingangs ein Überblick über die daran beteiligten Forschungsfelder gegeben (siehe Abbildung 1), z.B. Task Switching und Ecological Interface Design. Parallel zur Erläuterung des theoretischen Rahmens folgt die Beschreibung des Anwendungskontextes Leitzentralen von Schleusen an Bundeswasserstraßen der Wasser- und Schifffahrtsverwaltung des Bundes. Der Anwendungskontext wird weiterführend mittels Arbeitsgebietsanalyse und Abstraktions-Dekompositions-Matrix beschrieben. Auf die Präsentation dieser Ergebnisse folgen Zusammenfassung und Ausblick.
... Para tanto, existem regras relacionadas à área de ergonomia. Essas regras podem atuar desde a área de cognição, tal é o exemplo do estudo deGrootjen et al. (2006) sobre a carga cognitiva em centro de controle de um navio, como sobre o desenvolvimento em si dos centros de controle, com base na ISO 11064 3 , que define um processo de concepção ergonômica de salas de controle industrial, tal como as de operação de controle de tráfego aéreo e geração de energia elétrica, utilizando para tanto os princípios de abordagem de design centrado no ser humano, design tolerante a erros, abordagem de feedback e análise de tarefas em cada etapa de projeto (AAS; SKRAMSTAD, 2010).Para o projeto de desenvolvimento dos VDUs existem referências básicas. As principais são em relação à questão de diagramação dos dados na tela, seleção da fonte (tipo de letra), configuração do texto, uso de cores, linguagem de comando e usabilidade das telas(SANTOS et al., 2009), atendendo às regras de ergonomia.Além das referências básicas, para uma boa configuração do painel, deve-se respeitar algumas premissas(SANTOS et al., 2009): ...
... Hetherington et al. (2006) found that the crew on a normal cargo vessel in 25 years had been reduced from 40 to 50 people to 22 people. The possibility of this reduction is mainly explained by the increased automation, particularly in navigation systems (Grootjen et al. 2006;Hetherington et al. 2006). ...
Full-text available
With a hardened competition, the demands for greater efficiency and increased profitability in shipping have been stronger. In recent years major reductions in manning have been made. When the STCW Convention was revised in 1995, this led to changes in terms of the organization of work on board. By using a functional approach it became possible to handle current demands that all tasks on board are founded on competency-based skills. This article reports the results from an investigation of work functions performed on board ships. The aim was to investigate how these functions are performed today, and how marine officers perceived this. Main questions were: How do the officers handle the working situation with a reduced crew? Which job functions do they have and how are these performed? How do the officers experience the work situation on board? Field studies, involving participant observation and interviews on various types of vessels were conducted and issues were illuminated and analyzed from a socio-technical perspective. The result revealed some specific areas. Reduced crews highlight the need for the right kind of knowledgeable people. Not everyone can be good at everything, maybe not even within their own profession. The predominating issue is about the increased administrative work and the lack of skills development. A continuous professional development should be part of the work and a planned activity. Vessels are trying to create flexible solutions for performing the work on board. They are doing this in various ways, depending on the number of the crew, the leadership and the specific vessel culture. Response to Reviewers: I have corrected my article according to the reviewers´commentsreviewers´comments. I have especially developed the method section, the section with the second engineer´s tasks, discussion and conclusions.
Conference Paper
The electricity sector has resulted in more sophisticated equipment and requires more attention from operators, bringing the monitor and operating a growing set of equipment. This results in increased workload with emphasis on cognitive and environments more conducive to error. The task of an operator, in the Electric Power Control Centers is very complex and specialized situation. They have the basic item, the prevention of incidents and errors that disrupt the operation of the electrical system, or when this is not possible, they attempt to make the process of returning to normal, which is called recovery. They have to do it by mobilizing knowledge and reasoning for which they received training, which, from the point of view of existing rules, are adequate. However, there are some factors that need to be improved because there are still accidents and incidents caused mainly by fatigue, lack of concentration, or inadequate human-computer interface. The aim of this paper is to evaluate workload and ergonomics aspects on the operators in the electric power control centers and analyze whether there are differences in two countries of different continents Brazil and Portugal.
Conference Paper
Workload research in command, information and process-control centers, resulted in a modular and formal Cognitive Load and Emotional State (CLES) model with transparent and easy-to-modify classification and assessment techniques. The model distinguishes three representation and analysis layers with an increasing level of abstraction, focusing on respectively the sensing, modeling, and reasoning. Fuzzy logic and its (membership) rules are generated to map a set of values to a cognitive and emotional state (modeling), and to detect surprises of anomalies (reasoning). The models and algorithms allow humans to remain in the loop of workload assessments and distributions, an important resilience requirement of human-automation teams. By detecting unexpected changes (surprises and anomalies) and the corresponding cognition-emotion-performance dependencies, the CLES monitor is expected to improve team’s responsiveness to new situations.
Part 1: the task analysis process. Part 2: task analysis techniques task data collection task description methods task simulation methods task behaviour assessment methods task requirements evaluation methods. Part 3: task analysis case studies balancing automation and human action through task analysis a preliminary communications system assessment a plant local panel review a staffing assessment for a local control room task simulation to predict operator workload in a command systenm task analysis of operator safety actions maintenance training a method for quantifying ultrasonic inspection effectiveness operational safety review of a solid waste storage plant a task analysis programme for a large nuclear chemical plant.
Classified the tasks used in 53 studies in the vigilance literature by the abilities required for task performance. For studies falling within each category of task, mean performance computed across studies was plotted as a function of time in the vigil. The curves relating time in the vigil to detection accuracy were found to differ as a function of the ability requirements of the tasks. Similarly, when the effects of selected independent variables (e.g., signal rate, sensory mode, and knowledge of results) on performance were examined, different functional relations were found depending on the abilities required by the tasks. Thus, classification of these experimental tasks by an abilities taxonomy improved generalizations about the effects of independent variables on vigilance performance; relations were revealed which had been obscured without these task classifications. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)